Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ten Truths on Tuesday

  1. I know that Sunday was the most glorious day I've had in a long time.  And for no particular reason other than everything about it was beautiful.
  2. I know that Blood Diamond is a terrifying movie and I promise to stop watching made-from-reality movies where little boys are drugged, forced to hold a gun larger than they are, and brainwashed into forgetting their parents.
  3. I know that Liam has had "sleepy parent radar" since birth and will only cry at night as my head hits the pillow and I am just thinking about how wonderful sleep sounds.
  4. I know that around 2 pm my motivation hits a brick wall, and then gets run over a million times by a ginormous dump truck before it is thrown into a dumpster until 8-10 hours of sleep later.
  5. I know that I haven't seen any of the movies that won Oscars Sunday night.
  6. I know that when Miles and Liam wake up and crawl into my lap my heart breaks into a million little pieces wondering how long this will last.
  7. I know that fountain Coke tastes just as good here as it does at home (some of you will be very happy to know).
  8. I know that I have to design a mural about forgiveness and every day I think more about it, this seems more and more impossible to illustrate onto a giant wall that is appropriate and uplifting enough to be in a primary school.
  9. I know that I talked to two friends on Skype Sunday night and it made me question why the heck I haven't been doing that all along.
  10. I know that I have an exciting new idea for a photo project that I MUST begin, but because of Truth # 4, I'm having a little trouble getting it off the ground.  It will be amazing people.  And profound.  And it's sure to make me famous....  If I can only get over that darn 2:00 hump.
To read about the evolution of Ten Things I Know to be True on Tuesday, click here.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Forgiveness.  It's a funny thing.
P4 and P5 students (roughly 2nd and 3rd grade in the U.S.) from two schools came together last week to talk just about forgiveness.  DAYS spent focusing on forgiveness alone.  I got to spend an hour and half each day discussing what this invisible force looks like.  How can we as artists (because that is what we all are) show forgiveness?  I should tell you here - there is a mural in the works.
They had some pretty good ideas.
"A Rainbow."
"Two ladybugs on a leaf."
"A Sunshine."
"White fluffy clouds."
"A hug."
"A cat not eating a mouse."
"A heart with a band-aid."
"A butterfly"
And one child's very descriptive visualization, "Two friends holding hands on a hill overlooking a sunset."

It was lovely.
And somewhat confusing.
Is this what forgiveness looks like?
I decided that one of three things has happened to these children
1.  They have not had to forgive anything larger than a small tiff on the playground.
2.  They haven't realized the gravity of what they've had to forgive.
3.  They're delusional.

What about the rest of us - the responsible and sensible adults that do understand the gravity of our situations?
The wife that found out her husband was having an extensive affair right under her nose.
The civilian that watched a police officer shoot and kill his friend.
The victim who was gang raped in the parking lot.
The parents who helplessly watch their sons being carried away knowing they will be brainwashed into being child soldiers.
The woman whose mother died because she didn't have health insurance.
The man whose wife fell out of love with him.
The entire race victimized and tortured simply because of the way they were born.
The teenager that lost her father to a cancer he never could compete with.
The young mother that lost her baby before she could ever hold him.

What is "forgivable"?   What are the advantages to forgiving?  Do they outweigh the advantages to not forgiving?

Someone told me this week that forgiveness has an element of blame to it.  In order to forgive someone or something, you must first acknowledge that someone or something wronged you.

So who do you forgive when you're child is diagnosed with cancer, or have a miscarriage, or your child is born with birth defects? Whose fault are these?

Does God really expect us to forgive everything?  What would that kind of forgiveness look like?  I have a feeling that two lady bugs sitting on a leaf just wouldn't cut it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Carrie and Travis Come, But Don't Bring Max or Charlie

This last week we were so lucky to have Carrie and Travis here to visit us.  Unfortunately, a lot of our conversation revolved around why they were bringing their two little pups, Max and Charlie. 
They arrived on Wednesday and explored Dublin until Friday when they adventurously rented a car and drove all the way up here.  On Saturday we spent a lot of the day just lounging around and hanging out with on another, followed by a delicious thin-crust pizza - a rare commodity in this part of the word.

One day this week I had to work Cover, which means I couldn't get off site.  The boys took advantage of this by exploring Derry - the city I lived in when I studied for a semester here in college. 

On Sunday Carrie and Travis treated us to an open-top bus tour in Belfast, which was so fun.  I would recommend it to anyone coming to visit.  It covered so much of the city and history that I didn't know before.

And of course Dustin finally roped someone into visiting Bushmills Distillery with him - the oldest whiskey distillery in the world (I think).  Although his guests didn't fight him too hard on that.

Like every time someone comes to visit us, I wish I would have taken more pictures.  The boys won't stop asking where Carrie and Travis went.  They love having visitors.  The next time we see them they'll either have a picture of our sweet cousin coming from Korea, or (even better!) our actual cousin.  We can't wait to meet him or her and pray that we'll get to soon. 
Thanks for the memories, and meals, and love Carrie and Travis.  We miss you already.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Take me to your leader

This is going to be short because I'm sick.  Well, not this minute, but I can actually sit in a vertical position for the first time in 24 hours, so I'm going to take advantage of it by entertaining you with the natural wit and charm that just flow out of my fingers.
Which is not what was flowing out of me last night.

Not important.
What is important is that Carrie and Travis, Dustin's sister and brother-in-law, traveled all of the way over here to visit us this past week.  We had so much fun and I will post pictures soon.
I love having visitors.  I love having people that love us (or the idea of a vacation in Ireland) enough to spend their money and take off work to come all of the way over here.
But there is something.
One tiny little thing that disrupts my contented peaceful and happy life when it happens.
The begging in my mind.
The longing to go back with them.
The jealousy that they're returning to their homes, jobs, and lives.
I really am happy here.  I promise I'm not miserable.  This is just me.  I'm nostalgic and sentimental.  I cry when I see pictures of my dog or old house, or when I receive letters from my old coworkers. 
And whenever someone heads away from here and to their home - no matter where it may be, there is a tiny part of me that whispers "Please. Take me with you."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's not all roses and unicorns

My son can't talk.  That's a lie.  He can talk.  People just can't understand him.
Let's rewind.
Miles was slow to say many words and even slower to put multiple words together.  I spent much of the first two years he was home with us assuming it was because he was learning a completely new language at 10 months old.  I still think that's entirely legitimate.
My son is funny and kind.  He gives the best hugs and can figure out a locked container in seconds flat.  He is the fastest runner I know, and his smile lights up a room his smile illuminates the world that surrounds him.
But the articulation of thoughts and desires does not happen easily for him.
I want you guys to know this for a couple of reasons.  The first is because someday when he is a Noble Peace Prize Winner and has to give his acceptance speech and is a little bit nervous, I want him to know how far he's come.  The other reason is because I read blogs all day where everyone's kids sound perfect.  Which is awesome.  Some kids may be perfect (cough), but the reality is that I then compare my sons to them and their milestones.  I'm just putting it out there for you now.  My oldest son has trouble with his speech and he still isn't 100% potty trained (don't tell his preschool teacher).
Almost a year ago we took Miles to get tested for his speech.  Because he was almost three, and therefore the concern of the school district, he had a series of tests through the county before he turned three, and then a series of tests after he turned three.
In the tests post-birthday it came to our attention that he was all over the board.  The most discouraging test was that he tested at a 18 month level for speech.  (I won't mention here that he scored cognitively at a 5 year old level, because that would be bragging and incredibly unattractive.)  Like every reasonable and completely sane mother, I automatically assumed it was my fault. Maybe I wasn't talking to him enough.  Maybe I had him self-entertain too often.
Then we moved here.  And, like the jars of Miracle Whip I left behind four months ago, the school system that tested him is a distant memory from home.  I entered him into a Gaelic school because there was no room in any other school in the area (and you aren't just guaranteed a spot in the closest school here).  Anything you read says that learning another language increases the intelligence of a child, which is fantastic.  However, I couldn't help but feel like it was a mistake.  When Liam started surpassing him in sentence formation and emotional thoughts and concepts, I started to really get concerned.
I think his speech is getting better, and he has been tested again.  We're still waiting on something to happen (socialized healthcare works a bit differently - but not in a bad way).
The thing I've had accept is that it is my responsibility to work with him more.  That totally sounds like a no-brainer, right...especially coming from an educator.  The problem is that I've fallen into the trap that many parents I loathed in my past life fell into....thinking someone else must be helping him.  I feel horribly guilty for this.  And I know you all hate me now for admitting it. 

So I am now making the commitment to start working with him more.  Like any good and responsible parent I will work with him as his speech continues to develop.  I will stop getting out the crayons and paints so much and start busting out the flashcards.  Ouch.  Okay, maybe I'll use the markers and paints to somehow replace those awful flashcards.  Whatever it takes.

And mark my words,  I will get him to poop in the gosh darn toilet for goodness sake.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Taking This With You.

Tonight we got an invitation to enjoy a traditional Swedish dinner hosted by a group from Sweden.  We ate raw fish on special crackers, and learned traditional Swedish dances.  And as I watched my oldest son being twirled around the dance floor by my husband I had a sad thought....will they remember THIS?
Will they remember dancing with Swedes to traditional music and laughing with so much delight that they can't catch their breath?  Will they remember two months ago trying the traditional German soup that they loved so much made by one of the German volunteers?  Will they remember traveling to castles in Scotland, or our trip this summer to The Netherlands?
Will their life be enriched by these experiences?
Will they realize the value in them?
Will they remember the sheer happiness they felt as they shoved Swedish chocolates in their mouths while  beautiful Swedish girls ogled after them?
Miles and Liam, just in case you don't remember, believe me....you loved EVERY MINUTE OF IT.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Printed Fabric, DIY

Last week we made some printed fabric, which was quite successful and very easy.  I started out by buying a bunch of white pillowcases at the charity shop.  
We used block printing ink and a brayer to even out the ink onto a scrap piece of paper.
Some of the volunteers created their own stamps, and some used stamps that already existed. I chose to use a glass jar to create the circle that I wanted to print.

Here is my finished product.  I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my fabric.  I think I might make a bag.  Suggestions are welcome. :)

And here are some examples of what some of the other volunteers did with their printed fabric. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You Are Enough

To my precious boys.
You are enough.

You are enough for me.  You have been since the moment you joined the world.  You  exceeded my expectations the moment you took your first breath, or walked into the nursery room in your foster mother's arms.  When you're exploring this world, you are enough. When you make me laugh, you're enough.  I love the person you are even without my help.  My job is to help you along the way, but babes....the truth is that you don't need my help, because you are already enough.

You are enough at school.  The schools have enough people fighting for valedictorian.  What they don't have enough of, are people craving knowledge.  You don't need all A's.  You don't need to do extra credit.  Find your passion and explore it.  When else are you going to have a group of people dedicated to your education and there to help you every step of the way?  Experiment.  Ask meaningful questions.  You don't have to take the hard classes unless they excite you.  Be excited rather than overwhelmed.  When you try your hardest, you are enough.

You are enough for your friends.  People are going to disappoint you.  Just remember that you are worthy of love and acceptance.  There are enough people in the world fighting to be the most popular. What the world lacks are people who are genuine and kind.  Find friends that realize how awesome you are.  Treat those friends awesomely.  Be true to yourself and don't sell yourself short.  Even when you're not the most popular...especially then....you are enough.

You are enough in the world.  The world is full of rich tycoons and millionaires.  What the world needs more of is the authentic you.  If you want to fix engines, fix engines.  If you want to join a band, work hard so you aren't sleeping in the streets.  Power is great, and fun...but power without love is dangerous.  Fill the world with love and your light.  That can come in any profession, in any career, and in any form. When you spread love around, you are enough.

You are enough my dear boys.  You always have been.
Your Mom

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This year's Valentine....

We mustache you a question....
Will you be our Valentine?

Ten Things I Know to be True on Tuesday

  1. Sunday I watched Home Alone... alone, on my couch, with a Coca-Cola.  It was just one awesome part of my day.
  2. I'm seriously thinking about watching the series West Wing from the beginning, but I know me....I know this means a severe drop in productivity.  Right now I'm trying to weigh if this is a great time for me to drop off the face of the earth.  
  3. I've found the ultimate HoHo (chocolate cake rolls with white frosting and a delicious chocolate coating)...and it lives in the UK.  Since it is only sold in the UK (by Cadbury) I have serious plans to send some to my brothers who at one time shared my intense love for HoHos as a child.
  4. Valentine's Day may be my most favorite holiday, even though my husband doesn't celebrate it and I know I won't receive a thing.  Perhaps you remember this post from last year.
  5. People can say they hate Valentines Day, but it really just means they don't know how to embrace it correctly.  How can you hate a holiday about love and candy? 
  6. When you send mail to someone it makes them feel loved for the entire day.
  7. If there are two almost identical cars for your boys to share they will still fight over which one wants the "orange one" (or purple one depending on their mood).
  8. I like ice cream.
  9. I used to think being busy was an indication of how valuable I was.
  10. Now I know that's crazy-talk, and being content makes me a million times more valuable.
For information on the evolution of 10 Truth Tuesday, click here.

And just to prove I am READY for today....
My new socks from my sister-in-law. :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

A job to fit.

One of the best things about being here is that the people who are in charge of us care about us.  They didn't give us a big long list of expectations when we walked in the door.  There of course were expectations that were presented, but we were invited to make everything we did our own.  They wanted us to take ownership in every aspect of our job.
But just this last month things have gotten really interesting.
I feel like they've been listening to us.  And watching us.  And now they're finding ways to make our work even more meaningful.
They have Dustin designing flyers and logos.  And as a graphic designer by trade, I would say he's pretty happy with that job.  We're working together to create design-driven murals for a new building, and I've just been asked to create 40 original photo pieces for a building to be dedicated in June.  I've even been given permission to look for an enlarger to create my own darkroom if it strikes my fancy.  In two weeks I'm working with school children to help create two murals for their schools.
Guess what I did on Friday?  I walked around with the director of the center and talked about art...the beautiful and not-so-beautiful art that fills the current spaces to be specific.  I've been given full permission to arrange the art between three different buildings in a more cohesive and beautiful way.  If you know me at all, you know that this is just about the most exciting job they could give me.
AND....that's not it.  We have a small gallery space in one building that I am going to be in charge of creating a rotating exhibit in.  This has already put me in contact with some amazing artists from this area, and continues to be a pleasantly beautiful challenge.

Have they read my mind?
It would seem so.
Do I think I'll really like doing what I'm doing?
Does this make me happy?

Friday, February 10, 2012


Okay, here's a nice Mommy post full of pictures of my kids doing things that no one cares about but me (and maybe their grandparents).  
But it's my blog, so deal with it.

Last week we surprised the volunteers with a trip bowling as a group. 

Some of the volunteers were really kind and let the boys bowl on their turn.  Unlike Dustin and I who are too selfish and competitive to sacrifice our bowling score to give our kids a shot.  (BTW....Dustin got the highest score.)

It was way more fun than I ever think bowling is going to be, and the boys really liked it.  I could see bowling outings in our family's future.  (Lucky me, she said through clenched teeth.)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Little Gangsta's Guide to Driving His Mom Nuts.

Are you familiar with this book?
We are.  Too familiar.
My sons love this book.  I think Miles wrote it in his past life.  Basically, it's about this boy (named David) who does naughty things and the entire book is his mother scolding him.  Things like climbing on counters to steal cookies, splashing water outside of the bathtub, and shoving too much food into his mouth.  In my world....amateur stuff.
But my boys love it.  Now when I'm reading it they make me say "No Liam!" or "No Miles!"  because they're so thrilled that an entire book was written almost entirely about their lives of crime.  In fact, we've started role-playing the parts that before now, weren't applicable to our lives. 
Let me give you an example.
Liam now insists on at least 10 good minutes after his bath when he can be "a little bit naked".  This involves him running and jumping around the house yelling "Come back here Liam!".  In his mind it looks like this....
 In reality it looks more like this...
And I, the mature adult in this situation, giggle the entire time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ten Things I Know to Be True on Tuesday

  1. My kids can be using two pieces of cutlery to eat and cut their food at breakfast while saying "please" and "no thank you" during the entire meal, impressing everyone within earshot.  No more than 5 minutes later they will go back to the hotel room and start pretending to pee on one another.  There is no happy medium.
  2. Ice cream bars make a great snack...just not in the car when it is dark out and you have no form of napkin to clean up with.
  3. I miss Miracle Whip. If you have a jar in your fridge, give it a nice hug for me.
  4. Laundry won't do itself.  Even if you stare at it really hard and will it to get up and walk itself to the washing machine.
  5. There is no way to tell your dog and cat that you are coming home in two years, but you can find them really lovely homes and hope they still like you enough to come with you when you return.  You can also wish everyday that you would have been nicer to them so that they would actually miss you rather than have the times of their lives in their new homes. 
  6. Jealousy is a terrible houseguest.
  7. People will surprise you.
  8. Preschool teachers are too nice to tell you what your child really did and how it really screwed up their day.
  9. The best conversations happen well after your bedtime.  It's a small price to pay.
  10. There is no greater sound than when your kids are in the other room playing happily together and pretending.  Nothing in the world is better.
For the evolution of 10 Truth Tuesday click here.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Last weekend for my birthday we decided to take a small adventurous trip to Dublin.  If I'm honest, I would admit that I wasn't really looking forward to it.  We've been so busy that I thought a weekend at home relaxing sounded fun, but Dustin talked me into the trip and I ended up having a little a lot of fun exploring the city and other things on the way.
Our first stop was an old Celtic burial mound in Newgrange, Ireland that dates back before the pyramids - something like 3200 B.C.  It's hard to comprehend something that old.  It was pretty cool as far as old things go, and luckily we had the weather for it.  This was one place listed in Fromers 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Leave Home.  So we did.  However, our kids will probably just be upset that we did it before they'll ever be old enough to remember.  Trust me kids...you liked it.

The front entrance.  All of the stone is the original stone.
Waiting for the bus back.

After Newgrange we headed on to Dublin where we had a good time exploring the city....and the culinary experiences it had to offer.  First stop, Thai food, which was a big hit with the boys.

Then the next day... crepes for a mid-morning snack
And Queen of Tarts for a post-mid-morning snack.

Next we went on to Dublin castle which had a huge courtyard that we could run around and explore.  The boys were having a great time following the brick trails on the ground.  We of course had no idea what the significance of the place was, but something important happened there because there were a lot of people talking in hushed voices and looking at guidebooks.  

Some church...an important one I'm sure.  I'm a terrible tourist.

On Sunday before heading home we went to see The Book of Kells.  The boys loved it.  Just kidding.  Wouldn't that be great if they did though?  What they did love was running around the dark room and chasing each other down the long corridor of the library.  Now that was more their cup of tea.

Waiting in line to see The Book of Kells.